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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Oct;263(2):223-8.

Functional characterization of the competence protein DprA/Smf in Escherichia coli.

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1
Department of Medical Microbiology & Infection Control, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

In several bacterial species that show natural transformation, dprA has been described as a competence gene. The DprA protein has been suggested to be involved in the protection of incoming DNA. However, members of the dprA gene family (also called smf) can be detected in virtually all bacterial species, which suggests that their gene products have a more general function. We examined the function of the DprA/Smf homologue of Escherichia coli. Escherichia coli dprA/smf is able to partially restore transformation in a Haemophilus influenzae dprA mutant, which shows that dprA/smf genes from competent and noncompetent species are interchangeable with respect to their involvement in natural transformation. From this, we conclude that natural transformation is probably an additional function of these genes. Subsequently, the dprA/smf gene was deleted in various recombination mutants of E. coli, and the resultant phenotype was tested. All the resultant E. coli dprA/smf mutants did not differ from their parent strains with respect to transformation, Hfr-conjugation, recombination and DNA repair. Therefore, a role of DprA/Smf in DNA recombination could not be established and the basic function of dprA/smf remains unclear.

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